Iver Johnson Hawk

Here’s how to work and debug the Iver Johnson Arms Hawk, a Commander-type 1911-style handgun.

by RK Campbell

After one hundred and ten years you would think we would be able to get a singular handgun design down pat and that examples would always work correctly and function. As long as people desire a less expensive product and companies try to provide it, we will never have a perfect handgun. Then again, there are occasional problems with relatively expensive handguns as well.

I was recently able to test and evaluate the Iver Johnson Hawk 1911, a Commander-type pistol. This handgun lists for about $600 and may be found for ten to twenty per cent less on average. The pistol tested features a high grade blue finish and a matte blue finish version is available for forty dollars or so less. While offered by the American-based Iver Johnson Arms company, the primary components are manufactured in the Philippines. The impression is that the pistol is shipped from S.A.M. (Shooters Arms Manufacturers) in the Philippines and Iver Johnson does the final fit and finish.

The finish is nice throughout, with a dull matte on the stop of the slide and lower parts of the frame. There were no discernible tool marks. The sights are high visibility types dovetailed into the slide and giving a good sight picture. The rear sight features a Philips head screw that may be loosened for adjustment; rather odd compared to the generally used Allen head screw. Witness marks for setting the sights are dimpled into the slide. The beavertail grip safety is well designed and well fitted, releasing its grip on the trigger about half way into compression. Combined with the sharp slide lock safety indent, the fit of these parts is credible, even impressive.

The grips are easily among the nicest I have examined. They appear to be cocobolo or the very similar rosewood, are checkered in the double diamond pattern, and feature Iver Johnson’s owl symbol. The long trigger and flat mainspring housing are typical of modern 1911 handguns. This pistol uses a standard recoil spring and spring guide set-up. The trigger action, however, was far too heavy, breaking at 8.1 pounds. The primary fit and finish leave little to be desired. While the trigger is heavy, a trigger job would fix that. The safety is easily adjusted.

Problems came up when firing tests were…

Read more in the April 2020 issue.

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